Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Men's response to women

I've had some heart-wrenching conversations with men who are confused by the whole situation as well. They know they're supposed to respect women - and these men do - but they are trained to by the same media that women deal with. Here's what one enlightened man commented:

What I'm hearing from men is that this false expectation of how women are supposed to look damages men as much as women. It makes them sexualize women when they look at them. It makes their hormones kick in so they can't get past their erections to have a real conversation with a woman. It makes them ashamed of their physical reactions and terrified to talk to a pretty girl.
I think that Hugh Hefner, as just one symbolic figurehead of many, clearly damaged women AND men's appreciation for real women's bodies. This is very, very obvious, but I thought I'd pipe up with the politically-incorrect, culturally-stereotyped view of what makes a woman beautiful, that was TAUGHT to me and deeply inserted into my sexual conditioning, starting at around age 12 or earlier, by Hef, Madison Avenue, billboards, film and TV: what makes a woman beautiful is being under 30, slim, smooth-skinned, wrinkle-free, fat-free, cellulite-free, with long hair, preferably blonde, and a look in the eye that says "You know you want me." That is what many or even most men are up against in our heads when we begin to encounter the world of very real, and very beautiful women who are outside that image. Like I said, obvious; that's why you're doing what you're doing in the first place, right?

And men are beginning to feel some of the same pressure women have been feeling for a long time - their bodies are supposed to look a certain way. I think gay men have felt this pressure for a long time, but now heterosexual men are beginning to as well. Anorexia is on the rise for teenage boys. Steroid use is obviously out of hand.

How can we stop this before it really gets going?  I'd hate for men to suffer the same low self-esteem we've been plagued with for years.  How can we help people accept their own and other's bodies just how they are?

What can be done to change this cycle? Write in with your ideas. Let's change the world.


  1. For me, I strive to live my life as free from those influences as I can. Now that I've taken the 'red pill' I've seen the way it doesn't have to be.
    I never body snark on people. That's the way they were born. I hate it when I see women that have had plastic surgery, absolutely hate it. It may sound terrible, but I see that person as weak, someone that couldn't fight the pressure to be 'beautiful' and therefore mutilated themselves to try and fit some ideal. The things women are required to do to their bodies!
    I have a new thing I want to do. It's pretty much vandalism, but I don't care. I'm going to print up stickers that say things like, "Wake Up! This isn't real!", statistics of eating disorders in men and women, and slap it over the advertisements of unreality we are bombarded with every day.
    Public spaces should be open to more than just paid advertising, given that if it's paid then it's not really public, but rather only open to those that can afford it. Those companies don't speak for me! What can be more 'democratic' in a radical way than to intervene, comment, and subvert what consumer capitalism tries to feed us?
    Also, I am very vocal about such opinions whenever subjects like these come up. It is better to have someone disagree with me than to keep silent about it.
    Thanks again for your wonderful work!

  2. Thank you, Cleo, for your comment. I am completely curious - what is the "red pill"? I haven't heard that phrase before.

    I hear your powerful feelings about this issue. I hope you'll keep on speaking up and helping people become more aware of these issues. It takes being vocal. I hope you'll keep commenting as you read the blog. I want this to be a forum for just such awareness!

  3. To explain the Red Pill, I'll quote Wikipedia: "The term Red Pill is a pop culture term that was popularized in science fiction culture via the 1999 film The Matrix. The movie relies on the premise that an artificial reality that is advanced enough will be indistinguishable from reality and that no test exists that can conclusively prove that reality is not a simulation. This ties in closely with the skeptical idea that the everyday world is illusory. In the movie, a Red Pill is the term used to describe a human who has been freed from The Matrix, a fictional computer-generated world set in 1999. Bluepill refers to a human still connected to the Matrix."
    In a feminist point of view (to me), the artificial reality, The Matrix, is the patriarchy our world lives under now. The patriarchy dictates these things we as women 'have' to do to be valuable, like being sexy and beautiful. And of course a long list of other things that ensure our servitude and inequity to men. The patriarchy is a social construct and is all around us and exists, but only if you are aware of it.
    Wiki: "Borrowing from the movie, the terms blue pill and red pill have become a popular metaphor for the choice between blissful ignorance of illusion (blue) and embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red)".
    With my knowledge of the existence of the patriarchy and my recognition of the pressures that we as women face, I have taken the red pill. The painful truth of reality.
    I emailed you awhile ago to let you know that I appreciate your work so much. I'm an artist, too, and I remember you were so nice in the email. I'll be around!